From Gratitude to Riches

Hello,

I’ve come home from another day at work feeling like time is moving both all too fast and not at all. The beginnings of a box of Rice-a-Roni sizzle softly on the stove, requiring me to leave the warmth of the kotatsu and stir it before it browns too much. It smells lovely and I half imagine myself to be cooking up something from scratch in a lonely forest cottage. My little mushroom mug, previously my grandma’s, fits the narrative. I’ve been sorting through my stash of tea and trying to drink it more but this time, it’s a matcha and cardemom latte. The pan that dinner is cooking in, is also a hand-me-down and I’ve ended up covering it with a baking sheet since it has no lid; how aesthetic.

There is much I want to dream into my fantastical (quite likely impossible) future but the current moment holds beauty. It’s something that I’m working on remembering. Sure, escaping into a daydream is fun, but it leaves me feeling somewhat trapped when I come back. So, I’ve settled myself in, to process the unpleasant reality that is my now and resolved to romanticize it.

It’s been bad winter weather the past two days. Snow and ice cover the roads and let’s just say the temperatures aren’t very positive. I was carefully parking yesterday when my vehicle decided to slide into the dms of the one next to it….and leave a nice scratch. That is a claim I now have to handle on top of the other matters pressing at my tired grey matter. Bills, budgeting, scheduling, pursuing the next steps for my health, and simply maintaining my space and self seem to be more than I can manage but, one task at a time. Some progress is better than no progress.

Seeking out the parts of my imperfect life that are daydream-worthy and keeping them in the setting of the present, helps me practice gratitude. I have so so much to be thankful for. Might be dealing with physical pain, burnout, and exhaustion but I have a warm home, a comfortable bed to sleep in, and a job to provide money for which to pay my medical bills. I may have yet another insurance thing to process, but the people involved have all been kind, there was minimal damage, and no one was hurt. There is probably no secluded cottage in my future, but I have my own cozy space with a kitchen to cook in. Thinking of all the things I do have, how ungrateful my mindset is most days.

It’s been said, “the present is a gift.” Trusting that right now, is good timing for what currently is, is a process. Even struggling through difficulties, I am going to practice noticing that I’m rich; rich with opportunity, rich with relationships. I am rich with a multitude of what I have in my life, and when I frame things that way, it doesn’t take much to romanticize it.

Whatever struggles or hard times, difficulties or frustrations, pain or loss of hope you may have, can you find something you are rich in? Maybe it’s too much of a stretch to use that word but what is something you are grateful for? What is something that you could pluck out of your present and place into a daydream?

Be well, friends and strangers. Thank you for joining me again.

Perfection

It is beautifully quiet, for a few precious moments. The sunlight from our frozen outdoors, bounces off of my ring onto the pillow next to me in small dancing dots. Clove is free to wander the apartment but she has returned to her cage for a mid-day hay snack and possible nap.

At the beginning of this year, a few weeks ago, I chose what goals I was going to focus on this year. Since I could not pursue them all at once, I chose to save for a house and to focus on and pursue my health all out. The result of this, has been decreased eating out with friends, fast food stops, and more appointments than time to take a breath.
For my chronic pain and fatigue, I’ve gotten two diagnoses. Hearing a medical professional say that it’s not all in my head and no, I’m not being dramatic or overly sensitive is so reassuring. Admittedly, though I am happy to have some answers, there are no cures, only treatment for symptoms to try. I now go to physical/occupational therapy twice a week before or after work, and am still working with my primary on what medication is the best for me. The other part of my health is mental health. I finally am pursuing full answers to my questions so that hopefully, I can be better equipped to take care off my brain.
I read somewhere that someone was trying to change the term to brain-health because it decreases the stigma around mental health. Mental health seems to have worth and morality assigned to it, while physical health does not. Did you know that anxiety can literally damage your brain? Brain health.

Mental health doesn’t just cover people who struggle with your labeled conditions though. Stress and our perception of ourselves affects mental health. One of the providers that I’ve seen looked at me and told me that I have amazing memory and talent. I must have looked properly shocked. “Do you not think so?”
Do I not think so… What do I think about myself on a regular basis?
“You’re letting perfectionism steal your joy.”
Wow. In my pursuit of being the best me that I can, I was self-sabotaging. I speak to myself in a way that I never would speak to a friend, often in the name of being who I want to be. Nothing I ever do is good enough for me.

I had a friend over last night and ended up reading her some of my old writings. She is absolutely convinced that I’m an amazing writer and that I need to be published. I downplayed it, made excuses, and eventually was told “I’m going to shake you every time I see you if you don’t give this a chance.” She believes in me far more than I do. It’s warming to have a friend stand up for you, even if it’s against yourself.

I’m working on it, friends and strangers.
What is your idea of perfection?

Beautiful and Tumultuous

The wind is making the trees dance in the setting sun. Spinning seeds find their way to me from an empty sky It is not quiet, yet it is peaceful. When this type of breeze makes my hair caress my arms and strands cross my face, I feel as if I must be important, strong. There is no booming, no cracking or roaring. Instead the power is quiet, soft and still beautiful.

I wonder if the wind has ever known where it’s going. As far as I can tell, it just goes. I want to be like the wind; beautiful in my collected chaos, freely fulfilling my purpose, not worried about where I’m headed.

The Dream

Though my dreams and aspirations have become somewhat fuzzy these days, I realized that a core desire still remains.

My “what do you want to be when you grow up” answer has ranged from being a mother, to being an event coordinator, to being an author, to teaching English in Japan. Realizing that I currently don’t know what I want to do and that my interest in any previous 5 year plan has flatlined, is both discouraging and confusing.

Years ago, one of my dear cousins and I were looking for locations to do photo shoots. Various abandoned buildings presented themselves but one lives in my memory, solid, to this day. It was the most beautiful brick instrument factory. Sun reflected off of the large multi-glass pane windows, vines climbed the exterior elevator and the sturdy front door: stained glass window and rich finish on the dark wood, provided contrast to the pavement and metal.
It was for sale. We dreamed of buying it and renovating the inside to be full of conduits for potential. There would be various bedrooms, a library, a professional level kitchen, a music studio, art studio, dance studio, workshop and room for more. The building was large. The vision was that people with cohesive personalities and interests could live there in community and create through the different avenues. It would be our place.
Of course neither of us had much money at the time and the lot was bought by someone else. I don’t know what became of that building. I’d like to think that the new owner did something beautiful with it instead of knocking it down and building cookie cutter condos. In my mind, it is what we dreamed it could be.

My more recent idea for a small business, I’ve realized, would fit into that fantasy as well. I want to create experiences for people who, like me, are stuck in the 9-5 grind and wish they could live a different life, but can’t. Boxed escapes brought to you not just by me, but by partnering with local artists and other small business creators. One of the reasons it hasn’t happened is because it requires a massive amount of prep, organization, community and time.
A different dear cousin is visiting me this weekend and she spoke of her roomate, an author who “collects” other artists. People supporting and working with each other, like minded, creating beautiful elements that, as a whole, reach the desired outcome. It brought me back to that dream of the abandoned instrument factory.

Admittedly, these particular people don’t fit what society deems normal or typical but there is a richness in individuals working to understand each other and support growth, even painful, in each other. It’s not something that I’ve felt comfortable sharing here before but I am what some call neurodivergent. It roughly means that my brain doesn’t work the typical way. There are a lot of people who fit into that descriptor and it’s still highly stigmatized. When we are able to share with like-minded individuals, unafraid to be ourselves, it is so beautiful. Safety to exist as you actually are in a community is not something that everyone has the occasion to value on the same level. Meaning, if you fit into societies expectations, you aren’t consistently putting energy toward presenting yourself in a way that is comfortable for others.

I may not know my solid, attainable dream for my future right now but I do know that having the support from people who understand me, and the ability to create and essentially share my heart with people in that way, that’s the dream.

Thank you for reading, strangers and friends.

Pinterest board for the factory is here.

Fear and Fantasy

There’s a storm brewing. I can feel it in the air as I right my toppled zucchini plant. It’s warm, windy, and the wildness creeps into my bones. I want to be wild and free like the flying leaves; soak up the adrenaline and be at fiery peace.

Tomorrow, my favorite weekend escape opens. I can be another version of me in a different world. Going to Renaissance Festival has always given me that feeling, the one I can’t quite put into words.

My imagination is renewed and a match held to the wick of my creative spirit. Maybe it’s that I don’t have to be what most people want me to be. Keeping to myself offends no one and I can slip between groups of people like a shadow, all the while taking in such delicious details.

I’m a little afraid of my excitement. A lot has changed since I was last able to attend, and I’m afraid it won’t infect me with that restful, childlike inspiration.

Do you ever get scared by being excited for something, just hoping it is as wonderful as you remember it?

Have a lovely weekend strangers and friends. Here’s hoping you get to revisit pleasant dreams and fall asleep to the sound of a storm.

My Farm-stay Morning

This morning, 5am greeted me without alarm and I followed the suggestion of one of our hosts for enjoying garden-side bunny frolicking. Wrapped in a fleecy blanket, I quietly prepared a small french press of coffee before slipping outside to settle into the front seat of an old car by the barn. Steam rose from my cup as a chicken wandered past, no doubt wondering why I was there without it’s breakfast.

After some more sitting, watching the cottontails in the dewy grass, I visited the chicken coop, gave the goats some good head rubs, and went back inside the cottage to my cozy bed. Sleep overtook me once more and I woke a few hours later, sunlight seeping through the cracks in the curtains.

Leftover pancakes were reheated on a charming white dish and the rest of the french press drained while a fresh egg sizzled in the small cast iron skillet.

There’s something so lovely about sitting outside, shaded from the sun, with a cool, fragrant breeze stirring the pages I write on and enhancing food’s flavor. Two, towering, evergreens stand nearby, their branches swaying ever so slightly. Ants file past my bare feet on the smooth wood of the deck. A moth flits from wildflower to wildflower. Oh, what peace.

The long way home

Whenever I saw signs for the “scenic route” while driving, I was never interested. Only more recently have I found the value of taking the road not suggested by GPS as the fastest or most direct. What a map or navigational system can’t see is what one can gain from going that way.

Taking the long way home, shifts my brain from rush to reflection. I wouldn’t have even seen the sunset spreading across the sky if I had taken the direct route. I wouldn’t learn all that I am if I was already in sight of my destination.

Not every trip is meant to hold that extra few miles but sometimes those extra few miles hold something precious, otherwise missed. I know, I’m being very vague and cryptic but this is the thought that struck me. Being told that I don’t have the same timeline for my life as everyone else, has never had a pleasant ring to it. Patience is a virtue but I never asked for practice.

Maybe what I’m trying to say, is that I’m still alright, even though I can’t see home. Though I am wandering, I’m just taking the scenic route. If my life followed the timeline that I see so many others following, maybe I would miss that gorgeous sunset. What am I missing by not paying attention to or valuing this extra stretch of road?

You’re not wrong, if you’re on a different path than me, a straight shot to the top. I hope though, that you’re able to take moments into your own hands and hold them. Give yourself the freedom to take the long way home; literally or figuratively.

Be well, strangers and friends.

Thoughts; Out of Place

This blog originally, was meant to push me towards my dreams. Those dreams seem both unclear and out of reach these days. I know I’m making progress, have things that I’ve dreamt of, and if I put in the effort and work, more could happen. I don’t know what is wrong. It’s like I’m stuck in a cycle of not belonging in my own life. That sounds crazy when you say it out loud but no other description quite seems to fit; always feeling out of place in my own existence.

Having time to rest, as well as get things done this weekend, has left me motionless. It’s not a comfortable lack of movement. Instead, I have no interest in things that, even a few hours ago I was excited about.

I started working on cutting out squares for a memory quilt of t-shirts that I no longer wear. It was really fun at first, taking up most of my focus, even hiding the fact that I needed to eat lunch. But as each new piece brought up memories, my mental energy and excitement from finally working on this project drained; processing multiple aspects of the times past. Being a very sentimental person doesn’t seem to have an advantage at any point in time. There’s a large chunk of time that I miss how things were, though they were hard. This is a different hard I guess.

Maybe it’s because a milestone birthday is coming up for me and I don’t see the change that I want to. Maybe it’s the fact that the things I want and don’t have, won’t “fix” this.

Anyone else experiencing a strange, empty, stuck feeling as we are slowly coming out of the pandemic? The general public that I attempt to assist during the week at my job, definitely appear to have been affected. Almost no one seems to be able to process the changes happening without taking out stress and frustration on others. I digress.

There it is: Existential crisis, a world in crisis, frustration with myself for having a hard time despite everything I’m blessed with.
As I’m coming up on a new decade of my life, do you have any tips for a future that seems so uncertain? If you have felt the way that I am, what helped you?

Thank you for sitting with me, friends and strangers.

Pajama pants worn many Christmases, a favorite of my dad’s dress shirts, a very bright childhood shirt, and a shirt from one of the years riding the MS-150

Escape into Reality

I’m sitting on my patio, iced tea creating a wet spot from the sweating on the cement next to me. Clove is tethered to my ankle, free to explore the length of her leash but close enough that I can be there before a dog or hawk. It’s a perfect 73 F only partially spoiled by hesitant grey skies and light mugginess.

Weather like this makes me sleepy and unmotivated to do anything except lay in bed and scroll TikTok or Pinterest. Actually, that is exactly what I was doing before this. I came across a TikTok of someone who was told that if they feel that way, to go for it, just outdoors at a park instead.

I have found that taking care of others is vastly easier than taking care of myself. Why that is, I’m not quite sure. I do know that the way I perceive things has a large sway on their impact. I have used my imagination to escape from real life as longa s I can remember and never once did it occur to me until this week that I could use my imagination and creativity to actually change my reality instead of escape from it.

“Bad” feelings are still meant to be felt. Greif, pain, anger, are not meant to be ignored and pushed down. Instead of beating myself up for feeling more than happiness all the time, I need to learn to process the emotions that are generally frowned upon, remind myself that they are ok to feel, just don’t wallow in them.

Maybe you came to this realization long ago or maybe you don’t relate to my same feeling of needing to escape life at times. Either way, I hope you’re finding a way to take care of yourself.

Thank you for listening strangers and friends.

(written May 23rd but forgot to actually post it)

Outdoor Ambitions

A breeze keeps blowing my loose strands of hair into my face and if I tilt my head just right, I can see a threading of web reflecting light through the blades of grass. The smell of someone grilling and the sound of birdsong mix now with the quiet clack of the keyboard. I am somehow in a different life but it is my own.

I haven’t read an actual book in maybe, over a year. Someone was kind enough to send me one off of my Amazon wishlist, suggested by my mentor. It’s so beautiful outside today again, after most of the week being rain and snow. Going on a walk is suggested but the mentally tired bug bit me earlier today and was not shaken. Resting outside, reading for the first time in forever, carding my fingers through the velveteen fur of my rabbit, has melted the work day away.

It’s not just any book either. It’s not an escape (which I am constantly seeking) or a cover up. It requests that I face reality and ask myself hard questions.

we need to figure out where we are before we plot a course forward

Bob Goff – Dream Big

I am urged to open my eyes, take a clear look at everything I think about myself and why, sort through my desires and ambitions as if doing an internal spring cleaning, and truly put in the work to make my life what I long for it to be.

No more doing what merely occupies, entertains, and numbs us?

Bob Goff – Dream Big

Can you be honest with yourself? How difficult is it for you?
As the light fades into evening and the breeze becomes chilled, I will go back inside but take these questions with me.

From only three chapters into the book, I already highly suggest it. Have you heard of it? Read it? Dream Big by Bob Goff